Giving: it’s for more than Tuesdays

I’m told that #GivingTuesday is a kickoff to the charitable season. Thanks for the clear border, guys, but where I live – amid people of modest means whose time is the greatest gift they have to offer – giving isn’t a seasonal thing. Still, this recently-minted hashtagged holiday sparks a few ideas. Some involve money, others involve time, and each has special meaning for me. While many of these suggestions are New Hampshire-based, similar opportunities exist wherever you live.

Gifts collected at the 40DFL baby shower will go to four agencies in Greater Manchester.
Gifts collected at a recent 40DFL baby shower went to four agencies in Greater Manchester.

Pregnancy care centers that provide abortion alternatives always need your help. Look for CareNet, Birthright, and Manchester’s Pennacook Pregnancy Center. Visit them and learn about the programs each one offers. Volunteer, or make a donation, or hold a drive to collect the goods they need. How about having a baby shower to benefit your local care center? Perhaps you have the business skills or fundraising savvy that make a good board member.

40 Days for Life is dedicated to peaceful and prayerful witness outside abortion facilities, in two worldwide campaigns each year, one in Lent and one in the fall. Manchester, Greenland and Concord have hosted New Hampshire 40DFL campaigns in recent years. No 40DFL donation is more critical than your time at a prayer vigil. A close second is rallying a team from your church to sign up.

The New Hampshire Food Bank does much more than supply food pantries throughout the state. While donations of food are welcomed, cash donations support the Food Bank’s extended programs. Host a food drive. Volunteer at the Manchester warehouse.

St. Charles Children’s Home in Rochester provides one-on-one behavioral treatment for students referred by local school districts. Where once it provided residential foster care, the Home now serves children in day programs. The Home is staffed by the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love, AKA the Running Nuns. The Labor Day St. Charles 5k race in Portsmouth for runners and walkers is a big fundraiser for the Home, and there’s room for you on the starting line.

The latter two projects have something in common: they’re agencies of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, which makes good use of your support for many other projects as well: health care, adoption, and refugee services, to name a few.

Give blood. I am as needle-phobic a person as you’re likely to meet, and yet I make time for this. I donated for a long time just because it seemed useful. Later, I saw loved ones benefit from medical procedures that would have been impossible without blood products. Go to to find a drive near you, or pay a visit to the Red Cross blood center on Reservoir Avenue off Mammoth Road in Manchester.

The annual NH March for Life is organized by NH Right to Life.
The annual NH March for Life is organized by NH Right to Life.

For educational and political work on the life issues in New Hampshire, consider supporting New Hampshire Right to Life and Cornerstone Policy Research. (Full disclosure: I’m a past board member of NHRTL and Cornerstone is a client of mine.)

Look in your own back yard. Local road races often benefit local charities; check them out. Is there a club or clearinghouse in your town that keeps up with community needs? For example: a few years back when we had that second “hundred-year-flood” in two years, several homes in my town needed extensive work. One of the service clubs put out a call for assistance, and we basically had a two-day town-wide rebuilding party. (I learned I can tear down soaked drywall like a pro.) If you’re a member of a church, do you have an ongoing local project? Each town has its own needs, and no one knows a town better than its own residents.

Farther afield, And Then There Were None serves abortion-industry workers who want to leave the business. To my knowledge, there is NO other ministry doing what ATTWN is accomplishing.

My thanks and respect go to everyone who keeps these agencies going, whether as a volunteer or a donor or a staff member. Every day is “giving Tuesday.” Let’s make it count.

Edited to add updated links and information.

Pregnancy help centers offer ways you can help, close to home

Thanksgiving has mellowed my Facebook feed, for a few days at least. Political disputes have given way to photos of family reunions, accounts of recipes that did or didn’t work, and cheerful appeals from area service agencies. One post in particular (embedded below) stood out today: a 17-year-old described how she organized a drive to collect items needed by clients of local pregnancy care centers.

I shared the post on Leaven’s Facebook feed, and I got a message from a reader: could I point out the new address (after many years on Kelley Street) for Manchester, New Hampshire’s Birthright? “Our clients have found us, our donors have not!”

Glad to do so: 247 South Main Street, Manchester. That’s next to Sacred Heart Church. Look for the Bishop Gendron building with the Sacred Heart food pantry. To confirm hours, call 603-668-3443.

If you’ve never checked out this blog’s page of New Hampshire crisis pregnancy resource agencies that do not refer for abortion, I invite you to do so. Some have web pages with a list of needed supplies. All would undoubtedly welcome financial help. Some have ongoing projects, like CareNet’s baby bottle drives. Perhaps you’re a member of a service group that could “adopt” a pregnancy care center to meet ongoing needs.

To all who are already working or volunteering or donating in support of this work, thanks. The rest of us can pitch in anytime, without going too far. The links on this blog will give you contact information for agencies in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Portsmouth, Rochester, Dover, Claremont, Littleton, Keene, Laconia, Plymouth and West Lebanon.

Let a 17-year-old inspire you.

Time to tweak the budget


What does a Supreme Court decision on marriage have to do with pro-life work? Directly, nothing. Indirectly, though, the Obergefell v. Hodges decision is bound to mean changes in which organizations the IRS deems worthy of the tax status known as 501(c)3. That sort of thing is very much in Caesar’s domain, so to speak. So are property taxes, and while they’re local, I suspect any tax exemption for a charitable organization’s property is linked to the c3 status of the organization.

So what are you going to do about that, if you itemize your deductions on your tax return? Would you still donate to a pro-life ministry even if it didn’t have c3 status? How about if you’re a board member of a church-affiliated pro-life agency, and your church dissents from the Court fiat on marriage? If I were a donor to such agencies – and I have been – I’d want to know what they’re doing to prepare for loss of tax-exempt status.

No scare tactics here. I simply think it’s inevitable that churches holding to one-man-one-woman marriage, and thereby dissenting from the Supreme Court, will have their exemptions yanked over the next few years. Many of those churches operate ministries for support of pregnant and parenting young people, hospice care, respite care, emergency housing, education… the list could go on. Those ministries are invaluable. People rely on them daily.

Sign on the National Mall at 2013 March for Life
Sign on the National Mall at 2013 March for Life

It would be inexcusable for those agencies not to have a plan in place to keep operating in the event of a shift in tax policy. That shift is going to cause a lot a displacement, I’m sure. Are you prepared as a donor? Are you prepared as a board member or employee of a currently tax-exempt human services organization? Are you prepared to act without bitterness but with calm pragmatism?

I’m not an attorney or a tax expert, but if I were running a tax-exempt organization, even a small one, I’d make sure at this point that I had at least one of each on call.

The time to tweak the budgets is now, not at the moment the IRS and local tax assessor come calling. Plan what to give, free of a tax deduction. Plan what to spend, with taxes as a line item. Litigate if you can afford it (abortion advocacy agencies can show you how that’s done), but be prepared in case of a loss. Caesar’s awake and on the prowl.

Maybe Dorothy Day was right. If I understand correctly, she was deeply suspicious of special federal tax status for charitable work, including her own. She reportedly quoted St. Hilary: “The less we ask of Caesar, the less we will have to render to Caesar.”